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Poltergeist or Prank in Lebanon County?

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I n 1885 the Seitzinger home on Spring Alley in the city of Lebanon was the source of both great interest and fear. Reports of poltergeist activity drew the attention of gawkers who gathered in the street out front. Soon police and newspaper men visited the home to investigate the strange occurrences for themselves.

Mrs. Seitzinger reported that the odd events began in the upstairs bedrooms. After carefully making the beds each morning she would return to the second floor to find them turned upside down. But soon the activity grew more dangerous. Stones, tossed by unseen hands, barely missed the heads of those on the premises. Coal, bread and onions whizzed passed the policemen and reporters as they investigated the cellar although no culprit was seen or found.

For a week the Seitzingers' home seemed to have a mind of its own, but then the house went silent.

Living in the home at the time were three young children, all daughters. Paranormal investigators have long advanced the claim that children - particularly young girls - somehow trigger poltergeist activity, however, this theory remains unproven. But could the Seitzinger girls have caused the ruckus - perhaps if not supernaturally, as a prank...?

John Seitzinger was a "tinker" - a tinsmith, in today's parlance. His wife Sarah was a full-time homemaker and, at least on the surface, it seems the Seitzingers were a normal, late nineteenth century family. In actuality, though, John was not the most upstanding of Lebanon County's citizens. In late 1893 he was charged with stealing four turkeys from one John M. Snyder. While awaiting that verdict, an additional charge of the theft of plumbing tools was lodged against him. He was found guilty and sent to Lebanon County prison. Several weeks later even more bad news came: his youngest daughter died. John was granted permission to leave prison (under guard of a sheriff) to attend her funeral.

John and Sarah Seitzinger lived the rest of their lives in the households of their surviving married daughters, taking turns between the two. They had long sinced moved away from the house on Spring Alley.

So what really happened in the Seitzinger home in the fall of 1885...? Was there a poltergeist, or did the family prank their conservative, God-fearing Lebanon neighbors? No one really knows but one thing is certain: with all of his legal troubles, it's highly unlikely John Seitzinger would have ever confessed to the hoax - if indeed it was one. 💀


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